Congressman John Garamendi introduced H.R. 1553, the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2019.
This bill would require Social Security to use the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate a fairer cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors. The bill would increase benefits and ensure that cost of living adjustments in Social Security reflect the real rising costs for seniors and disabled Americans.
From 1982 to 2011, CPI-E rose at an annual average rate of 3.1 percent, compared with 2.9 percent for the methods that are currently used, Garamendi said, in a press release.
“Our seniors and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” Garamendi said. “Using a COLA that actually reflects how retirees spend their money – especially in health care – is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”
The legislation has already earned broad support, with 17 original co-sponsorships and key support from leading advocacy groups and labor organizations.
“Social Security Works applauds Rep. Garamendi for championing Social Security and sponsoring the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2019,” said Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works. “One of the most valuable features of Social Security is its inflation protection. However, the current method of calculating inflation under-measures the cost of living of seniors and people with disabilities who are disproportionately burdened by rising costs of prescription drugs and other essential medical care. By more accurately accounting for the costs faced by Social Security beneficiaries, this legislation better prevents the erosion over time of Social Security’s modest but vital earned benefits.” ■